Reclaiming Our Way promoting the well-being of African American children & families

21Jul/150

Michelle Alexander: Beyond Black Spring – Understanding the Roots of a Growing Movement

A brief discussion with Michelle Alexander about the undergirding factors that have shaped community conditions across the country... factors more recently spotlighted during the uprisings in Baltimore, and that continue to inform and shape the national response to incidents like the killings of Sandra Bland (in Texas) and Kindra Chapman (in Alabama), among too many others.

Protests against police violence continue across the US, and this week's episode continues our exclusive reporting on the movement behind the protests. How are the legacies of the eras of slavery, reconstruction, and Jim Crow still with us today? Laura talks to civil rights lawyer, advocate, and legal scholar Michelle Alexander about citizenship and the prison industrial complex. Michelle Alexander is author of the best-selling book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, a book which has taken on even more urgency in the current protest moment. This episode also features an exclusive new report from Baltimore, with a look at the issues behind the recent uprising, from housing to education to jobs, and Laura connects the issue of lead paint in Baltimore homes to the death of Freddie Gray.   [Published on Jun 2, 2015]

9Mar/150

Michelle Alexander Discussing Implications of Recent Ferguson Report by the DOJ

From Democracy Now, Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Part 1:  Michelle Alexander: Ferguson Shows Why Criminal Justice System of "Racial Control" Should Be Undone

The U.S. Justice Department has concluded that the police and city courts in Ferguson, Missouri, routinely engaged in a pattern and practice of discrimination against African Americans. Despite comprising about 66 percent of the local population, African Americans accounted for 93 percent of arrests, 88 percent of incidents where force was used, 90 percent of citations and 85 percent of traffic stops. The Justice Department, which launched its report after the police killing of Michael Brown, also uncovered at least three municipal Ferguson emails containing racist language or images. "The report does not give me hope. What gives me hope is that people across America are finally waking up," says Michelle Alexander, author of the best-selling book,The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. "There is a system of racial and social control in communities of color across America. … What we see now is that we do have the power to make things change. The question is are we going to transition from protest politics to long-term, strategic movement building?”

Part 2:  Michelle Alexander: Roots of Today’s Mass Incarceration Crisis Date to Slavery, Jim Crow

As the Justice Department sheds new light on the racist criminal justice system in Ferguson, legal scholar Michelle Alexander looks at the historical roots of what she describes as "the new Jim Crow." From mass incarceration to police killings to the drug war, Alexander explores how the crisis is a nationwide issue facing communities of color. "Today we see millions of poor people and folks of color who are trapped, yet again, in a criminal justice system which are treating them like commodities, like people who are easily disposable," Alexander says. "We are not on the right path. … It’s not about making minor reforms and plodding along in the same direction. No, its about mustering the courage to have a major reassessment of where we are as America, reckon with our racial history as well as our present, and build a broad-based movement rooted in the awareness of the dignity and humanity of us all."

30Jul/140

The future of race in America: Michelle Alexander at TEDxColumbus

Michelle Alexander TEDx Talk originally published on Oct 16, 2013.

30Jun/140

Life After Prison: Struggling To Re-Enter Society

The U.S. has the highest rate of incarceration in the world, with more than 2 million people behind bars. After convicts are released, they often struggle to re-enter society. HuffPost Live explores the barriers faced by ex-convicts in America.

Originally aired on June 27, 2014

Guests:

  • Michelle Alexander  (Columbus, OH) Civil Rights Advocate & Litigator; Author of 'The New Jim Crow'
  • Daryl V. Atkinson  (Durham, NC) Staff Attorney, Southern Coalition for Social Justice; Served 40 Months In Prison
  • Edward Hammock (Flushing, NY) Former Parole Board Chairman; Partner, Hammock & Sullivan ; Former Chairman of NY State of Parole
  • Monica Jahner (Lansing, MI) Coordinator, ARROW
  • Jeremiah Hancock (Durham, NC) Served More Than 15 Years In Prison

24Feb/140

Michelle Alexander: Locked Out of America

From Moyers & Company...
December 20, 2013

After civil rights lawyer Michelle Alexander published her book The New Jim Crow in 2010 on our dehumanizing system of incarceration, she ignited a national conversation about justice in America and sparked a movement. In her book, Alexander explores how the war on drugs, “get-tough” sentencing policies and racism has created a caste system similar to that of our segregationist past.

Since then, Alexander has traveled the country to meet advocates and everyday Americans working to end mass incarceration in America — home to 25 percent of the world’s prisoners, despite representing only five percent of the world’s population.

She tells Bill that she has seen a grassroots movement brewing in communities across the country, “There are enormous victories that are being achieved precisely because the people whom we have written off and viewed as disposable are reclaiming their voice, standing up, speaking out, organizing even as they struggle to survive.”

23Jul/130

Michelle Alexander on the “Zimmerman Mindset”

Below is an excerpt from Democracy Now on Wednesday, July 17, 2013 (approximately 18 minutes).  In this excerpt, Michelle Alexander discusses the broader legal context of the tragic killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, including the differential application of Stand Your Ground in Florida.

there has been an outpouring of anger and concern because of the actions of George Zimmerman, a private citizen who profiled a young boy and pursued him and tried to confront him, perhaps. But what George Zimmerman did is no different than what police officers do every day as a matter of standard operating procedure. We have tolerated this kind of police profiling and the stopping and frisking of young black and brown men. We have tolerated this kind of conduct for years and years, recognizing that it violates basic civil rights but allowing it to go on.

You know, the reality is, is that it is a crime for a private person to go up to another private person, armed with, you know, a loaded weapon, and confront them, stalk them, perhaps search all over their body to see what they may have on them. That is a crime. It’s an assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated battery or aggravated assault. But when a police officer does precisely the same thing, it’s called "stop and frisk."

And, as we know, stop-and-frisk policies are routine nationwide. In New York City alone, more than 600,000 people are stopped and frisked every year, overwhelmingly black and brown men, and nearly all are found to be innocent of any crime or infraction, and are harassed simply because they seem out of place, seem like they’re up to no good. The same kinds of stereotypes and hunches that George Zimmerman used when deciding that, you know, Trayvon Martin seemed like a threat in his neighborhood, law enforcement officers employ all the time.

I believe that Trayvon Martin’s life might well have been spared if many of us who care about racial justice had raised our voices much, much sooner and much, much more loudly about the routine stereotyping and profiling of young black men and boys. It is because we have tolerated these practices for so long that George Zimmerman felt emboldened, I believe, to act on a discriminatory mindset that night.